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Science saw the Washington mudslide coming. Next time, let's Google it first.

Stashed in: Oregon!, Weather!, Seattle

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Nature can be cruel, but it’s not entirely capricious. The clues were there. Can we nurture a culture that gets people listening to scientists – or at least sharing our work? Can we stop breeding a culture willing to risk disaster in the first place?

Perhaps we can. I’ve been getting calls all week, since the Seattle Times dug up my study, from people asking where to get information on landslide risks to their homes. But there are too few places I can send them. It’s not that there is no information out there – Oregon and Washington have web pages full of information and maps – but it’s of no use to these poor homeowners; they don’t know what to do with it.

There will come a day when we can pull up maps on our iPhones that show known landslide hazards as prominently as directions to the nearest barber shop. Let’s make that day come sooner. We’ve become consumers of information; users of “big data”. Let’s become consumers of science. Tech giants and marketers have figured out how to get us to buy vast quantities of things we don’t need; can’t we use their techniques to get us to learn about things we do need?

Well said. And I believe the answer is yes!

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